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Frameworks for the sharing of memory in a digital world Darren Stephens MBCS CITP

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Presentation on theme: "Frameworks for the sharing of memory in a digital world Darren Stephens MBCS CITP"— Presentation transcript:

1 Frameworks for the sharing of memory in a digital world Darren Stephens MBCS CITP

2 Preliminaries A bit about me A bit about the Project and my aims

3 Who Am I? Originally a Physicist Then a Computer Scientist (of sorts) Now in Digital Media But still a BCS member (since 2004) Originally started a PhD in the area of web engineering

4 What Am I Doing? The Malta Music Memory Project (M3P) was founded in 2010 It’s main goal is to provide an inclusive repository for memories of Malta's music and associated arts, ensuring that these are kept in posterity for current and future generations I’m doing PhD research to support this project

5 …And : Why Should Anyone Care? Minority cultures are under great pressure in the modern world Identity is shifting Even if things don’t survive, at least recording that they were here is important Recording the ever present now is important too. Who knows what might be seen as important later on?

6 The Malta Music Memory Project Designed to capture and record some of the music of Malta and the Maltese – but not traditional music necessarily Much in common with other places, like Birmingham

7 M3P Initial decision made to use Mediawiki Useful as a first step but not without issues, as others have identified

8 Wikis How many people actually edit Wikipedia? Seen as a mostly ‘consume’ model by public Barriers to entry – editing and wikicode can be daunting to a non-technical audience But, information can be stored and searched for consumption relatively well


10 Human societies are predicated on storytelling and memory - we can think of ourselves as pan narrans: the storytelling ape But a big part of this representation of memory is the idea of the archive (e.g. Derrida) Memory is a complex and constantly evolving relationship between two broad types Individual Collective Memory

11 Individual Memory –Models that come from antiquity, such as Plato and Aristotle (mostly mechanical, which continued for many years) –Changes in the early 20 th Centrury. – Ebbinghaus, and from a different perspective, Bergsson. The idea of memory as a complex, creative and even performative process was born –Modern psychology identifies many different types of memory, though this project is probably most concerned with autobiographical memory, as it applies to identity Memory

12 Collective Memory Foundations in Jung, from a psychological point of view, but also Halbwachs, from a more sociological standpoint. He claimed that this was mostly externally imposed Assmann & Assmann claim that Collective identity is a complex interplay of the relationship between individuals and groups and can be used to direct behaviour and practice It also can be used to reinforce, and be reinforced by, individual memory Memory

13 All of this is lovely, but… Where does the technology fit?

14 So where does technology fit? –From the 1960s we see the beginning of the idea of technology as a tool for prosthetic memory (McLuhan) and augmentation of intellect (Englebart). It also allows for the curation of collective memory (Rheingold) –Technology allows us a method of removing gatekeepers from the mediation of memory – communities can write their own stories –Consider the move from oral history, to archives, to printing to the digital age Technology

15 So where does technology fit? We currently see traditional archiving, but also a more immediate form of preserving both the present and immediate past: Social networks: generally self-selecting, self-organising and sharing memories of events, people etc. This is easy, and something people do often So, you share something with a friend using Facebook. But what then? Those memories are still effectively ephemeral: they are not captured for long term storage, exploration or retrieval Technology

16 So, back to M3P… How do people share memories? –Well, mostly on Facebook –Over 50% penetration of Facebook in Malta Actually 53% of population, and over 80% of its online population ( –But it‘s “trapped” within Facebook. How do we get it out?

17 An Initial Conceptual Model

18 Oddly… This initial model was briefly sketched on a piece of paper during a workshop. It looks a lot like a Platonic model of memory, as it happens. So all the memory stuff is not irrelevant… …especially as the questions we need to ask are: –What are we trying to capture? –And why?

19 Broader Questions How do we connect these sources together (and do something useful with them)? Social media: the stream of the memories of the present and the near past. People use these things as part of daily life Archives: which represent our memories of the near and even distant past. These have barriers to entry for many users (see issues with engagement with Mediawiki/Wikipedia) This should form the focus of my research.

20 Direction At this stage, still very open, though it is clear that the way to proceed is mostly immersive, and will involve work with the Malta Music Memory Project (M3P) At first confining the project to a specific case study and use of a single social network, Facebook Clearly, however, the point of a ‘framework’ is to be extensible


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